This artwork by Charlotte Thompson, a seventh grader at St. Martha Catholic School, was recently selected as a Grand Prize winner of the 2018-2019 Missionary Childhood Association Christmas Artwork Contest. (COURTESY)

Two local students earn top art honor

Sarasota  |  Two St. Martha Catholic School students were recently named as 2018-2019 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners. Sixth grader Collier Moser, and seventh grader Charlotte Thompson, were two of only 24 students nationwide to be recognized with this honor. Additionally, Charlotte’s artwork has been named one of two grand prizes and will be reproduced as the Christmas Card of the national office of the Missionary Childhood Association.

Winners were chosen from thousands of entries, a few hundred of which were submitted online. An annual MCA celebration for contest winners and their families — award presentation, Mass and luncheon — will be held Dec. 6 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. All of the winning artwork will be on display at the Basilica throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons until the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6, 2020.

Mary Jo Salomone, Art Director at St. Martha Catholic School, said with only 24 student’s artwork selected, “we are honored and humbled to receive these awards and all of the art awards that we receive. Our students at St. Martha Catholic School are extremely talented but we never lose sight that the talents, that we share, are created for the honor and glory to God.”

Father Bob Kantor, director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), coordinates Diocesan mission work was very happy when he was notified. “I am grateful to the Mission Office Coordinator Lisa Dahn for working with our Catholic school principals and art teachers to give the students this opportunity, with their works now recognized on a national level,” he said. “This is what we are all called to do!  In the art of a child, we see the wonder of Christ Incarnate, and how His Spirit lives in us.”

An agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the MCA asks children in the nation’s elementary schools and parish religious education programs and those who are home-schooled to submit their artwork to illustrate “The Nativity & Mission.” They can illustrate the Christmas story using images of shepherds and angels, the Three Kings and the Holy Family, the animals present by the manger, and the infant Jesus. Each year, 24 winners are chosen, and their works of art are featured as e-greetings on the main Missionary Childhood Association’s Web site —

Beginning in 1916, what is now the Missionary Childhood Association issued Christmas seals. The association started using children’s artwork on the seals in 1933. In 2005, it created Christmas cards with the youngsters’ artwork; e-greetings with the winners’ designs were introduced in 2007.

The MCA was founded in France in 1843 by Bishop Charles de Forbin Jansen. Its purpose is to encourage all children to be aware of the needs of children living in mission Dioceses throughout the world and support them both spiritually and sacrificially. Today it is in 110 countries and helps make Jesus known to children all over the world. Under its banner “children helping children,” monies raised through schools are directed towards self-help programs involving the building of schools, the provision of health and nutrition programs and medications, school fees, as well as teaching and learning resources.

For more information, please contact the Diocesan Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office) at 239-592-1949 or email